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Grizzlies' Brown named NBA Coach of Year

Updated: 2004-04-22 07:57

Hubie Brown won the NBA Coach of the Year award Wednesday for leading the Memphis Grizzlies to a team-record 50 wins and their first playoff berth.

Brown at 70, the oldest coach in the league beat Utah's Jerry Sloan in a close race with 466 points, including 62 of 122 first-place votes from a panel of sports writers and sportscasters.

Memphis Grizzlies head coach Hubie Brown reacts to an official's call during the second half of their 91-87 win over the Philadelphia 76ers Saturday, Jan. 17, 2004. Brown won the NBA Coach of the Year award Wednesday, April 21, 2004 for leading the Memphis Grizzlies to a team-record 50 wins and their first playoff berth. [AP]
The award marks a 26-year span between victories for Brown, who also was honored as the top coach in the 1977-78 season with Atlanta. Gene Shue won 13 years apart, with Baltimore (1969) and Washington (1982).

"Here we are 26 years later, and he wins another one," said Jerry West, the Grizzlies' president of basketball operations.

West heard plenty of criticism and doubters when he hired Brown in November 2002. He couldn't stop smiling as he presented his coach with the award at a news conference after the Grizzlies' practice. He called Brown the best coach he has been around.

"We don't even have close to a perfect team here, and he's been able to hide some of our weaknesses," West said.

Brown said the award must be shared with owner Michael Heisley, the Grizzlies and especially West.

"This guy, the guy holding the door, gave me the opportunity to have a little more bounce in my step," Brown said.

Sloan got 424 points, with 56 top votes. Milwaukee's Terry Porter and Miami's Stan Van Gundy, both rookie head coaches, tied for third with 54 points and one first-place vote each.

Brown was retired as a coach and working in TV when he took over as Memphis' coach two weeks into last season, when the team won 28 games a franchise record then.

This season, the Grizzlies went 50-32 and are playing the San Antonio Spurs in the first round of the playoffs. They trail the Spurs 0-2 with Game 3 on Thursday night.

Brown said he will always remember his team for the way it played this season.

"You've got to want to come to work. That's why I love these guys because when I come to work, they give me their hearts, and that's what coaching's all about," he said. "I'm hoping things will change in this series, but nobody's ever going to take away the playoffs and the 50 wins."

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